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Should Your Toddler Master These Ten Skills Before Starting School?

Ofsted has issued its early-years education report – including an essential skills checklist that all children should be able to do before starting school

Yesterday, we reported that Ofsted’s head Sir Michael Wilshaw had called for children as young as two years old to be better prepared for school. Sir Michael thinks that some children at nursery, particular those from less affluent families, lack basic writing and number skills – leading them to struggle at school. 

In response to this issue, Ofsted has now said that every parent should be given a ten-point checklist of basic skills that their tot should be able to check off before starting school.

Sir Michael says that this list of ‘essential skills’, including points such as ‘to be potty trained’ and ‘to talk in sentences’ will help parents know whether their children are ready for school. 

The checklist:
•    To sit still and listen
•    To be aware of other children
•    To understand the word ‘no’ and boundaries it sets for behaviour
•    To understand the word ‘stop’ and that such a phrase might be used to prevent danger
•    To be potty trained and able to use the loo
•    To recognise their own name
•    To speak to an adult to ask for help
•    To be able to take off their coat and put on shoes
•    To talk in sentences
•    To open and enjoy a book

Addressing childcare professionals in London yesterday, Sir Michael said, ‘The poorest children are less likely to be able to follow instructions, make themselves understood or manage their own basic hygiene. By age five, many children have started reading simple words, talking in sentences and can add single numbers. But far fewer of the poorest children can.’

Ofsted’s approach was countered by early years consultant Nancy Stewart, who said, ‘There is a lot of evidence about what counts in children’s later success and it is not putting on your shoes and going to the toilet, or even being able to  recognise your name. It is things like being confident, being curious and motivated.

'We need to be careful when we look at what are we saying are the essential things to be ready for school but also to be life-long learners.’

Do you think Ofsted’s checklist is a good idea? Let us know in the comments box below.

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